I am quite proud that I live in a half-house in the South End. The first response from most people is, “Yeah, so what? Lot’s of people live in half-houses.” That may be the first impression but if one understands how unique that is in the America of today; you would doubly appreciate it.
Most duplex’s are condominiums. There is an owner of the land and building and then there are a couple or more owners of ‘air’. Yes, that’s right. (I’m the kind of guy who likes to bring complex issues down to the bottom line.)
But in Newburyport, many buildings are separately deeded half houses complete with the land. We own the building, the land all the way up to the dividing wall. That is why the South End is sooo desirable; when you buy in this crowded historic district, you get something material.
This is not common in America and it’s something we cherish here.
I have lived in Newburyport’s south end my entire life. Its beauty and authenticity is what makes the city what it is. Without a genuine and maintained historic district Newburyport will lose its splendor and appeal. We have the south end to thank for the tourism that keeps our city prosperous.
-Dana Roy, Newburyport, Online Petition, 28 January, 2012
So, I have discovered to my horror that the owner of the other-half of my building has decided to replace the historic windows…with plastic. It’s not even nice plastic. And considering the short lifespan of these ‘modern’ replacements; it means a future owner; perhaps even my wife and I will have to expend great amounts of money to replace them.
Not only that – and this is repeated over and over again on DIY & HGTV Network and on this Old House. IF YOU LIVE IN AN HISTORIC HOME – DON’T REPLACE THE WINDOWS – CONCENTRATE ON STORMS. Why? Not only will the windows have to be replaced due to planned obsolescence; the new windows have now lowered the property values of the historic home.
You may not know the history of Newburyport and you may not know the architecture of our city but why cut your own throat by willful ignorance?
We are now suffering from the attractiveness of Newburyport. We are being flooded by ignorant newcomers who are totally unprepared to live in an historic city! Our most treasured asset disposed of by former residents from already diminished communities and a growing group from plastic suburbia.
The result will be reduced equity, reduced property values, reduced tax yields and finally, reduced quality of life.
We bought our home specifically because of the consistency of its historic neighborhood. Significant alteration or demolition of historic properties in Newburyport would diminish our experience of living here. Over time, if the historic context is allowed to erode, property values in Newburyport will be far less than they could be.
-Anika Savage, Newburyport, Online Petition, 29 January, 2012
We, as historic preservationists, must redouble our efforts, to get the word out. At the present rate of attrition, we will begin in just a few short years seeing the sun set on our beloved city.* (Just when the going is getting good!)
* Newburyport is not special in that line – there are many communities that had it really good and because they didn’t protect themselves have been passed over and ‘used’ to be prosperous. Noting our long history, there is no guarantee we will keep our present envious standing.